Fitness is a form of self-love: a confession 

Guys, this has been a really hard blog post to write, so please be gentle with me…

Last summer, I told you I was taking a long hard look at myself following a fairly bleak period in my life. Depression, self-destruction and self-neglect were unfortunate side effects of a death in the family – which had already been preceded by two more over the space of a few years, all just before or just after Christmas. I don’t often get too personal on my blog, but it’s really confession time here: I’ve let myself go.

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10,000 Reasons You Should Download Pokémon Go

Okay, so I’m officially behind the times here in posting about Pokemon Go, but sometimes you have a great idea for a post, and you just don’t get around to posting it at the exact, right moment…

But if you’ve not downloaded Pokemon Go quite yet, I’d definitely urge you to download it and have a go! If you don’t know what it’s all about, it’s basically a map-based game that sees you walking around the real world, collecting Pokemon, and visiting PokeStops to grab items, or PokeGyms to challenge other players.

Really, though, for me, it’s been a fantastic opportunity to spend the summer out and about, exploring new areas in my local vicinity, and rediscovering places I already know and love all over again.

Having recently started the Louise Parker Lean for Life plan (don’t call it a diet – she’ll come and beat you up), I was eager to find a way to fit in my required 10,000 steps a day somehow. 10,000 steps a day is a definite challenge for me. I work from home and I live in a fairly small place (no stairs!), so building up steps without going out and doing it purposefully is nearly impossible.

Luckily, having Pokemon Go as an excuse has genuinely helped me to check out a load of nearby places, racking up tens of thousands of steps every week in the pursuit of virtual monsters. I’ve visited beaches, abbeys, city centres, wharfs, parks and graveyards, and along the way, over the past couple of months, I’ve walked 460km – around 7-8km a day!

Truth be told, the Pokemon Go craze has started to wane, even for me – but using it as an excuse to start a healthy habit has been a fantastic way to trick my brain into getting on my trainers every day and heading out the door.

You can see from the chart below just how sedentary I’ve been for the last few months. My daily average walking distance is now 4 miles for the past month, compared to a dismal 1-2 miles previously.

Getting outside, enjoying nature, enjoying healthy activity – this is definitely exactly what I’ve been needing. Without going into too many details, I have to confess I’ve been feeling incredibly low and self-destructive for most of the year following a death in the family – something which I haven’t been quick to share on the blog. Weight-gain has been an embarrassing side-effect of my struggles, but I’ve reached a point now where I’m taking a long, hard look at my life, and making sure I make my health and my happiness a priority.

I don’t expect you thought you’d be going quite so deep in a blog post about Pokemon Go, did you…?

You can follow me for more updates on my journey on the blog, interspersed with plenty of fun, food and fashion, of course!

Jillian Michaels’ Body Revolution: Preview

I finally ordered Jillian Michaels’ Body Revolution! I’ve been hankering after this for a long time, and I’m so pleased that I finally got around to getting it. It’s very pricey compared to Jillian’s other products (at £99), but I think it’s a worthwhile investment…

Collection

The programme lasts for 90 days, and contains 12 different weight workouts and three cardio workouts. The reason I was keen to try this particular programme is that it alternates muscle groups – something which Jillian’s other DVDs don’t do. The idea is that you work one group of muscles, and then give them time to rest so that they can rebuild stronger. As I understand it, when you lift weights, you create tiny tears in your muscles, and it’s the rebuilding process, when your body repairs itself, that actually makes your muscles stronger. With more intensive workouts like the 30 Day Shred, you don’t stop to rest between working out groups. I hope that the Body Revolution actually tones my muscles more than I’ve experienced in the past – but first of all, of course, I need to do the workouts first!

The kit comes with three cardboard sleeves, pictured above, which have the DVD collection inside. There are also various booklets that go with it, including a meal guide for her 7-day kickstart programme.

Kickstart cover

Inside are a range of meals for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks for you to eat during a week-long period at the start. Jillian is very clear that you only do this once during the 90 days, as the diet is restrictive, and the exercise schedule is pretty intensive.

Kickstart menu

This is the diet plan I’ll be starting tomorrow, along with the exercise plan. I’m waiting for my shopping to arrive! I’ve bought items to make most of the things listed – the recipes are in the back of the book – so we’ll see how I go from tomorrow… The hardest thing will be avoiding tempting Easter treats! The recipes aren’t low in calories, but I do think they’re very low in carbohydrates. Hopefully there’s enough protein in there to keep me going!

Kickstart workouts

Here’s the workout plan for the first week – I’ve cheated a little bit and I already started yesterday, doing cardio 1 and workout 1. But I aim to start properly tomorrow and then work through until next Friday. Over the weekend I’ll perhaps do cardio again and rest on Sunday, so that I can then start Phase One as it should be on the Monday after Easter.

Here’s what the first month of work outs looks like:

Phase 1 workouts

As you can see, it follows a neat pattern which is pretty easy to understand! I really want to make sure I start it on a Monday, because having a real, set in stone schedule is very important to my ability to stick to it. I think that if I alter the schedule in some way, I’ll start making excuses as to why I can put off doing one of the work outs, so I want to eliminate that risk before I even start! Anyway, each block of exercise is approx 30 minutes, which really isn’t a lot to ask in a day!

Phase 1 discs

This is what I’ll be staring at for the next month! This is the inside of the cardboard sleeve for Phase One.

Here’s the explanation of what exercises are on each disc:

Phase 1

I’ll be back tomorrow to review the first day on the Kickstart plan!

Fitness Trackers: SlimKicker

One of the easiest ways to stay in shape, or lose weight to begin with, is to use an internet based fitness tracker. I’ve had great success using MyFitnessPal (and have also tried Spark People and JillianMichaels.com) but I was recently contacted about SlimKicker.com, so I decided to check it out.
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Unlike MyFitnessPal, which encourages a minimum of social interaction, SlimKicker.com really tries to get you involved in the online community, and uses a point reward system to get you to give your fitness and nutrition a boost. Apart from the obvious bump in motivation, this is a brilliant idea because it encourages you to switch up your routine, and try new things. Turning fitness into a game is a sneaky way to get you to work out without realising it! Today, I decided to take on the wall squat challenge, which asks you to do ten wall squats a day for seven days in order to earn 500 points.
Wallsquats
There is even info on the correct form for these squats, and recommendations for how to make it harder – if needed! It might seem simple in the grand scheme of things, but starting off small is the best way to go – how many of us have started ambitious fitness regimes only to see them crumble in the first week? The challenges are divided up into types – willpower, emotional, nutrition, fitness, giveaway and user created. They also have difficulty levels, ranging from 1 all the way up to 20!

You may well ask what the purpose of collecting points is – that’s where the reward system comes in. You post a picture for yourself of your reward, which you give yourself when you reach a certain level. I haven’t quite picked my reward yet, but the website offers suggestions such as a girls’ night out, a cheat meal, a massage, etc.

Rewards

One of the handiest things about MyFitnessPal was always the app, which meant I could add things easily as I went through the day. Luckily, SlimKicker also has an iPhone app, so I downloaded that right away!

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Through the app you can check your profile, log your food, record exercise and weight, and check your progress, as well as manage your challenges and interact with your friends.

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As I’ve been lacking a little in the motivation department recently, I’m going to try out this new app for a week and see if it helps me keep on track!

What fitness trackers do you guys use? Do you find they help you keep to your plans?

(Psst, don’t forget, UK readers can enter my competition to win 12 share bags of Popchips here!)

Alibi Pretox drink: an introduction

I was recently sent a complimentary box of Alibi pretox drinks to review on the blog, so I thought I’d follow up from my health kick on the 1953 vintage diet to review them!

Now, I’ve never been on a detox in my life – I only occasionally eat rubbish with any regularity (usually during the party season) and I rarely drink, so detoxing doesn’t quite have the urgency to me that it might have to someone who really parties hard (but I am definitely up for trying a detox at some point!). So, the idea of a ‘pretox’ sounded great – prevention is better than a cure, right? And, if all you have to do is sip delicious drinks, then I’m up for it!
Alibi pretox
Alibi comes in two flavours, Sparkling Citrus and Sparkling Pomegranate – which, as you might have guessed, are both fizzy. The citrus flavour is heavy on grapefruit and lime, and very fresh, whereas the pomegranate flavour is a little sweeter. I have to admit, I much preferred the pomegranate when I first tried them, but the citrus has really grown on me. I guess I associate the flavour of grapefruit with health, so that added mental boost gives it a bit of an edge!

Citrus Cut Out

Of coure, there’s more to these drinks than just a nice flavour. They contain 11 vitamins (including 100% of your RDA of vitamin K), three minerals, five herbal extracts and beta glucan (to boost your immunity), making them a great supplement whether you’re dieting or not. The sweet taste comes from stevia – which is sweeter than sugar but contains less calories. I know that artificial sweetners are a bit controversial – I use them a lot, but I am always looking into alternatives, and stevia is definitely something I’ll be trying more of in future.

The whole concept of Alibi is that it’ll boost your body’s defences with its healthy supplements – and I’m definitely a supporter of the idea that dietary supplementation is wise, especially given that the average diet is fairly low on fruit and veg. Even when you’re actively trying to lose weight, it’s always good for your peace of mind to know that you’re still getting some vitamins and minerals from somewhere. Of course, you can’t just drink this instead of following a healthy diet, but it’s great to have an extra safeguard in place.

Unlike many other health or diet drinks, this isn’t low calorie, because it doesn’t contain anything artificial. Coming in at 99 calories, though, it’s hardly going to break your calorie allowance, and you can drink it without worrying about putting weird chemicals into your body!

I’ve been drinking Alibi daily for just under two weeks now, and definitely enjoy my daily dose! As for results, I can’t claim anything earth shattering has happened – but then, I’ve also not been feeling as run down after Christmas as I thought I’d be, either. It was definitely nice to be able to drink something ‘healthy’ that felt like a treat following the Great Christmas Binge, and if you already enjoy fizzy drinks (don’t we all?!) but feel guilty every time you pop a can, substituting Alibi for your normal soda mught be a good way to supplement your diet!

Alibi is available from many stockists in the UK (list here) including Waitrose, Holland and Barrett, GNC and more. You can buy online from Ocado for £1.59 a can, or in packs of 12 from Amazon for £11.99.

Pomegranate Cut Out

The Vintage Diet: 1953 vs 2013

I don’t know about you, but I need to get in shape again after a pretty fun couple of months! Luckily, there’s always a new idea or craze to keep you interested in your regime, whatever that may be – but I decided to go back in time for mine and follow the 1953 diet previously posted at the (AMAZING) Tuppence Ha’penny blog! What better way to get in shape than with some old-fashioned, common-sense wisdom, right?

1953diet1

At first glance, this diet seems to be fairly balanced, but high protein, generally straying under the 1200 calorie mark. Some of the items are a little eccentric, and some of them I’ll definitely substitute (no sliced tongue, thanks!), but generally, I hope to follow this as well as I can!

1953diet2

I’m skipping Sunday’s all-liquid diet – I might try that at the end, but there’s no way I’m imposing that on myself during deadline week this week… Today is Tuesday, so confusingly I’ll be starting with Monday’s meals. Yes, anything to make life more complicated!

Check back later today for my run-down of Day One on the 1953 diet!

Victory Rolls by The Powderpuff Girls!

On Saturday 1 December, I got my hair and make up done by the lovely Claire from The Powderpuff Girls! The company had a stall at Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair, so I popped along to get all dolled up!

Getting ready 3

I had already decided I wanted victory rolls, because it’s a look I’ve never been able to do on myself, and I wanted to pick up some tips at the same time as seeing what it would look like! As you can see from this picture, my hair is ridiculously long, so I’m definitely planning on having it cut soon to make styling easier!

Getting ready 7

I guess the main tip I came away with was – don’t be afraid to backcomb to insane proportions! The hair you can see in the picture above hasn’t been sprayed at all, it’s just standing up all by itself!

(As a side note, don’t you LOVE the Powderpuff Girls’ uniform?!)

Getting ready 6

Another thing I’d been doing wrong with victory rolls is trying to curl my hair from the ends down – Claire started from the middle and wound backwards from there, and it definitely made it easier to do!

I also got my makeup done with the classic red lip and cat-eye flick.

Getting ready 5 Getting ready 1 Getting ready 10 Getting ready 11

The whole thing was a very reasonable £30, and I even got to take a free powderpuff home with me too! This is the third time I’ve had my hair and make up done by The Powderpuff Girls, and each time I’ve been really pleased with the look and the style’s holding power. They use Paul and Joe products along with some other brands you can see on the site, and it really makes a different to how long they last. I’m definitely thinking of investing in some Paul and Joe foundation – Claire wrote down all of the products she used on me, which was awesome!

Come back later in the week for more about the fair, my outfit, and the real reason we were in London… to see Viva Forever!